Judi Stuart: Dust is everywhere and you can not escape it

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Author H. Jackson Brown said, “You either make dust or eat dust.” If you ate any snow cream during our recent events, you ate dust.

Our atmosphere is full of dust particles, and when an extremely cold-water droplet combines with dust, it forms a crystal. The crystal continues to fall, picking up other droplets eventually forming a six-armed snowflake.

Comedian George Carlin reflected, “Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.”

Most dust falls into one of several categories: atmospheric dust, domestic dust, Middle Eastern dust, or cosmic dust.

Atmospheric dust includes soil particles, volcanic eruption dust, pollution and road dust which itself comprises 33 percent of air pollution. Cosmic dust is found in outer space and is the result of the creation of meteors, stars, and space debris.

Middle Eastern dust is a worsening problem caused by climate change and increasing desertification. Five million people in Iran have been affected by the poor air quality, and it is a major concern for the government.

Dust does not stay still either. Thirteen million tons of dust drift from Africa and the Middle Eastern area into the United States according to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors air quality and issues warnings as needed.

Researchers have discovered that U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait have inhaled particles containing toxic metals, bacteria, and fungi among other things. Scientists are trying to determine if this fact has any connection with ailments like Gulf War Syndrome, neurological and heart problems, meningitis, cancer, respiratory illness, post traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

Domestic dust is the in-your-face problem most of us worry about. Plant pollen, human and animal hair, textile and paper fibers, human skin, and dust mites make-up the dust that you see in your home.

Dust mites are members of the eight-legged arachnid class of animals. They and their feces are found in the warm, humid environment of beds, upholstered furniture, and all surfaces.

Even more of them are found in carpets where they love to breed. Mites grow best in 75-80 percent humidity but will not survive if the humidity is below 50 percent.

Humans give the dust mites plenty of skin cells to feast upon. In a way, they eat our dust.

After 10 years of infestation, the weight of a mattress can double in size and houses between 1-to-10 million dust mites. The weight of a pillow can be 10 percent dust mites. If you often wake-up with congestion, watery eyes, and sneezing, you might be allergic to dust mites.

Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters, house air filters, allergy bedding, mattress covers, and special laundry additives can reduce the problem. Washing sheets and blankets frequently can also help. Dehumidifiers can also assist in the home.

And you thought it was just a little dust.

Judi Stuart is the Visitor Services 
Manager at Port Discover